Welcome to How I Tri'd. This is an ongoing series about a very typical in and out of shape 40-year-old woman repurposing, reevaluating and recharging her life while training for the Lavaman Waikoloa Triathlon in Hawaii on April 10, 2016. I'm not an athlete, but I now pretend to be one in my head... and on social media. I have basically gained and lost the same 20 pounds over the last 20 years! It has gotten to the point where I started naming my pounds ("Robbie, pound 17, nice to see you again!" or "Stella, pound 12, sorry to see you go."). I'm a super healthy organic wine-drinking hypocrite! I have all the knowledge, all the recipes at my disposal. So what's holding me back? I've detoxed, I've lifted weights, you name it. I've done it. So why? Why? Why? I'll tell you why: There was too much BS going on in my brain to truly make a connection. Trying to lose that last 10 pounds was not motivation enough for me to always, rain or shine, take my ass to the gym. The Zen of yoga, the sweat of running, the power of weightlifting. None of it was enough. I needed to make my body connect to my life. I had no idea how to truly do that, until I signed up for my first race.
I had no idea this choice would challenge every area of my life. The daily postponements I once used to not exercise no longer had any merit. I had a race to train for. Being a typical type A personality, I was not going to allow myself to show up unprepared. It was raining, I ran. It was cold, I biked. I also used this time to think (and un-think). If something was too heavy, I went for a run. If I was reflecting too much on the past, I went for a ride. What I learned was that you can't run effectively if your mind is heavy. You can't look back on a bike without crashing (great metaphors for my real life).
Here are life lessons I learned while preparing for the race.
Predict the Unpredictable: Just like in life, you have to be ready to catch a curveball. I started training in early September for my first Duathlon event to be held in November. We had a lot of rain days during my training and it was often cold at night. Thinking there was a possibility it would be very cold on race day, I usually ran at night to prepare. I also ran and went bike riding in the rain often. So what happened on race day? It was 60 degrees! I had never run at that temperature.
You're Not Going to Perform Your Best When You're Full of Crap: The first 3 times I began running I had to stop because I had to go to the bathroom! Since my training was important to me, I had to find ways prior to make sure I wasn't full of crap. It also made me understand that when you show up in any area of your life full of crap (I'm now speaking metaphorically), it's going to affect your performance. So crap first!
Focus on the Task at Hand: Like I said in the intro, learning to focus is key. I found it harder to focus during running when my mind was already racing (which was most of the time). I wasn't 100 percent into the task I was performing, thinking about what pissed me off earlier that day, or what would make me happy later that night. The time is NOW!
Have the Right Tools for the Situation: In training and on race day, I showed up with my old reliable mountain bike (with thick tires) that I love. When I looked around at everyone else's bikes, they all had racers! No problem, I got this. As I approached a humongous winding hill that never seemed to end for the first time (I would encounter it 2 more time during the race), I understood why everyone else had a racer.
Mind Over Matter so Don't Cheat Yourself: After I completed that crazy hill (which I nicknamed F**k) the first time, I declared to myself that I was going to cheat and only do it twice instead of the required three times. As I thought about my initial reaction to the situation I wondered ... Who was I cheating? I prepared, paid and showed up to be in this race! I powered forward and mentally prepared for the challenge at hand. Guess what? I did it.
Challenge Yourself Every Step of the Way: My actual Duathlon consisted of 2 miles running, 10 miles of bike-riding, followed by 2 miles of running. During my training, when it came to the running part, I would always stop exactly at 2 miles. About halfway in, I was invited to do a 5k (which is a bit over 3 miles). I was nervous since it was beyond my comfort zone. When I crossed the finish line, I remember exhaling and thinking, "That's it?! Hell, I could keep going!" This opportunity gave me a great deal of confidence to prepare for the rest of my race.
I hope you follow the How I Tri'd series, as I prepare to complete a triathlon in April in an effort to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I needed something bigger than myself to be bigger than myself. This is it, folks!
For more information please visit my site:
How I Tri'd: (Triathlon Training, Real Life and the Bullshit Along the Way)